Thursday, 5 June 2014

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is a popular Malay cuisine in Malaysia sold like hot cakes at most stalls early in the morning. The hearty breakfast is wrapped in a brown paper or comes in a small banana leaf package. It's the pandan or screw pine leaves and lemongrass that intensify the fragrant of the rich coconut milk. Well, though it sounds heavy to the stomach but trust me, when it is eaten in a small proportion, then its a real comfort food. This wholesome meal can also be served at lunch. You could always think out of the box, when preparing Nasi Lemak as there are varieties of simple stir fried mixed vegetables that would be a great complement. Apart from that, dried salted anchovies could also be substituted with prawns, squids or even fried chicken to the sambal gravy. All you have to do is add ginger garlic paste to get rid of the meaty flavor. For those who are pure vegetarian, you can be creative by adding fried paneer or tofu with a tsp of garam masala powder and ginger garlic paste. The sky is the limit, although its an authentic Malay cuisine but suggested alteration will bring great variation and enrich the flavor of the dish. 

Boiled eggs, sliced cucumber, anchovies sambal, stir fried kangkong and stir fried broccoli and snow peas

Ingredients for making coconut flavored rice :  

Basmati rice : 2 cups
Coconut milk : 1 1/2 cups
Water : 1 1/2 cups
Onion : 1 (medium)
Ginger : 3 inches sliced
Fenugreek : 1 tsp
Screw pine leaves or lemongrass ( 1 stalk slightly crushed): 3 tied into knot
Oil : 1 tsp
Salt : 1 tsp or as needed

1. First, wash and soak rice in sufficient water for 10 minutes. Next, drain off the excess water and add the soaked rice to rice cooker container.

2. Add roughly chopped onion, sliced ginger, fenugreek, knotted screw pine leaves, coconut milk , water, oil and salt. Cook rice as usual in the rice cooker pot. Oil is added to separate rice.

3. Leave the rice unattended after it has cooked. Then, 15 minutes later, fluff the rice off using fork

Ingredients for making dried salted anchovies sambal or red gravy :

Small red onions :20
Dry red chillies ( I'm using variety of less heat chilly) : 18 ( you may adjust spiciness)
Anchovies : 2 small handfuls
Big onion : 1 sliced
Tomato (medium) : 1 diced
Tamarind : small gooseberry size  
Salt : as needed ( be careful don't add too much as the anchovies are salty )
Oil for frying anchovies

1. Blend small onions and dry red chillies to a smooth paste by adding 1/4 cup water. Keep aside.

2. Soak anchovies in water for 15 minutes and squeeze off excess water. This is to remove saltiness from the fish.

3. In a pan, add enough oil for frying anchovies. Fry till its light brown and immediately add the anchovies into 1/2 cup of hot water to slightly soften it.

4. Remove excess oil and leave only 3 tbsp oil in a hot pan. Fry the sliced onion till transparent and now add the blended chilly paste and diced tomato. Cook until the raw chilly smell disappears and oil starts to ooze out.

5. At this stage, add fried anchovies in hot water as well as tamarind juice of 1/4 cup. Cook under low flame for another 20 minutes. This sambal could be semi dry or semi gravy.

6. Serve  a cup of rice with half sliced boiled egg, few sliced cucumbers, a tsp of fried peanuts, stir fried mixed vegetables or stir fried Kangkong or Chinese Convolvulus.


Ingredients for making stir fried broccoli and snow peas :

Broccoli : 2 cups
Snow peas :  2 cups
Big onion : 1
Garlic : 5 cloves
Ginger : 3 inches
Dry red chillies : 3
Salt : as needed
Sugar : 1/2 tsp
Oil : 2 tsp

1. Wash and soak broccoli and snow peas in salt water for 10 minutes. Later, steam them separately for 5 to 10 minutes as broccoli has thick florets and stems compared to snow peas. The color of the vegetables should be retained.

2.  Heat pan, add oil and keep flame on medium high. Fry sliced onion, finely chopped garlic pods and finely shredded ginger with some salt and red chillies.

3. Quickly add, steamed vegetables and sugar. Stir them well and further cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Happy cooking !

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